Paris, OJ and the New Internet

6/13/2007

- Andrew Wetzler, President

"Bloggers posted 4,380 comments on the Los Angeles Times Web site within hours of Paris being sent back to jail" according to CBS 5, in Northern California.

The Herald Sun, "Australia's Biggest Selling Daily Newspaper" reports that "Paris Hilton was so terrified guards would take a picture of her on the toilet that she didn't eat or drink for three days, according to a source." They go on to say that "'She was absolutely terrified that one of the guards or staffers would get her with the cell-phone cam and it would wind up on the internet,'" a Hilton insider told the New York Daily News."

Do you remember where you were when OJ led the LA police on his trek across town? The date was June 17, 1994. I was in Baltimore playing pool in a crowded sports bar, but the televisions were all showing the OJ chase instead of baseball. Back then, there was no Internet (to speak of) and television was the only way to witness such an event live.
In 13 short years we have gone from single-view coverage of events to multi-view, multi-perspective coverage of everything. Images can be spun around the world in a matter of seconds and people's opinions can be voiced individually and in mass.

During this period of time, a younger generation has grown up online. What they have brought to the party is a whole different spin on how the web can be weaved (think social media sites, blogging & mobile). Although their presence has been felt, I believe the full impact is far from being understood. For marketers, it's really important to spend the time to learn what is going on and where things are headed, even though some of it, mobile in particular, is still very much in its infancy.

History seems to be repeating itself, in that many of the newer channels (YouTube for instance) are a long way from being effectively monetized. That presents significant opportunities for business owners who can adapt and craft ways to capitalize on the traffic that these channels are generating. YouTube's Alexa rating today is 4! (according to Alexa, YouTube is the fourth most visited site on the internet). As we all remember, it took several years for the monetization of traffic to take shape and generate momentum in the early days.

Sticking with the LA / Hollywood theme, I did a search on YouTube for "Johnny Carson". There were 450 videos that came back in the results and there were some comedy related AdWords listings that showed up, but none mentioned Johnny Carson. It's only a matter of time until that sort of gap is bridged.

Another noteworthy dimension of how far the web has evolved is the introduction of search results that combine different types of information. Google Universal was launched in mid-May. Their press release notes that, "Google's vision for universal search is to ultimately search across all its content sources, compare and rank all the information in real time, and deliver a single, integrated set of search results that offers users precisely what they are looking for."

Ask.com unveiled their competing project earlier this month. Their June 5th press release says "Ask3D understands that no two searches are ever the same, therefore no two search result pages should be exactly alike. 'Morph,' Ask3D's new algorithmic content-matching and ranking technology, is the underlying technology that delivers the most relevant content for each search query, and places that content onto one single page. Morph chooses from content of all types, including Web pages, images, video, music clips and news, and transforms the page to each individual query."

It is weird to think that some marketers are getting left behind on the internet, but that's exactly what is happening. One fact is for sure: the more interactive and personalized the web becomes, the greater the ability to segment the audience. Marketers need to better understand and thoughtfully test new channels.

In closing, the internet has also become a wonderful platform for a study of human behavior. For example, there were 3955 articles about Paris Hilton showing up in Google News, 1300 about Putin's missile defense proposal and a paltry 716 after a great initial pitching performance from Roger Clemens. I wonder what the OJ count would have been.
Andrew Wetzler is President of MoreVisibility.

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